Bible Study

Why and How to Study the Bible

It is not unusual in our day for men and women to have a low view of the Bible.
Why and How to Study the Bible

It is not unusual in our day for men and women to have a low view of the Bible. Many persons, including professors of theology and ministers, feel that the Bible is man’s word about God rather than God’s word about man and so devalue it. Therefore, it is necessary to speak as Christ did, stressing the divine origin of the Bible and pointing out its supernatural characteristics.

What is the purpose of Scripture? According to Jesus Christ the purpose of the Scripture is to point to Him and reveal Him. Thus He said, “You diligently study the Scriptures, because you think by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me” (John 5:39).

If you think about this purpose of Scripture for a moment, I am sure that you will see that it is an additional reason why the Bible must be divine in origin. The Bible was written over a period of several thousand years by over thirty human authors. If the product of these men was no more than a human product, it is inconceivable that they could have agreed even on an outlook on life let alone on the grand purpose of God in history or the purpose of their book. Yet this agreement is precisely what we find. The only explanation is that, although the human writers did write out of their own perspective and out of their own historical environments, nevertheless, the God who stands behind the Bible so inspired their writings that the resulting words were inerrant and consistent. What is more, the combined result was, in an important sense, one book.

A popular English and New Zealand preacher by the name of Frank W. Boreham published five books on verses from the Word of God, relating each verse to a well-known figure from church history, politics, or literature. The best-known of these books had the subtitle: “Texts That Made History.”

I have never felt at ease claiming one verse more than another as my particular text. But if I do have a life text, it is one I was given by the pastor of the church in which I grew up: “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).

It is the last phrase that particularly interests me. Whether providentially given or not, I do not know, but 2 Timothy 2:15 has characterized much of what I have done in my academic and Christian life. During my grade school and high school years I received the basic instruction that any young man growing up in an evangelical church might be expected to have. In college I was no longer receiving formal biblical instruction (at least not in Sunday school), but I supplemented my earlier knowledge by Christian reading. In seminary I delved into biblical languages, theology and church history. I was able to further this study during three years of intensive graduate work in Switzerland. Since that time I have been engaged in systematic study and exposition of the Word of God as part of my responsibilities as pastor Philadelphia’s historic Tenth Presbyterian Church. Yet I must say that in spite of what has now become thirty or forty years of Bible study, I recognize more acutely than ever the danger of handling the Word of God incorrectly.

I take you back to the third chapter of 2 Timothy. Paul encouraged Timothy to continue on the path of ministry he has been walking because “from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” Why is the Bible able to do that? It is because it is “God-breathed.” That is, it is the very Word of God and therefore carries with it the authority and power of God. Yes, and it is useful too. It is useful for “teaching, rebuking, correctly and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:14-17).

That is exactly it. That is what we need. It is what everybody needs. And only the Word of God is sufficient for it.

This devotional is an excerpted version of Dr. James Boice’s helpful booklet, “Why and How to Study the Bible.” If you would like to read the work in its entirety, please find it in digital form at

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